Mike McGrath, has been the host of WHYY’s You Bet Your Garden weekly program for 11 years, in the 1990’s he was the Editor in Chief of Organic Gardening Magazine. He continues to be a passionate and devoted horticulturalist. On 9/11/01 he rediscovered the healing power of nature.
Below are Mike’s recollections. Listen or read the audio transcripts:
Everything we did, everything everybody did was about 911. And so I’m standing there in my living just staring at this television and then the second tower fell and obviously it was September 11th it was a Tuesday, I’ll always know what day it was, and nobody knew how to feel, I just staggered outside of my house and luckily September is a really good time in the garden. The air tends to be a lot cooler, the craziness of the bugs and weeds is slowed down so I just wandered from bed to bed and felt every leaf and looked at every plant and I must’ve stayed out there for 3 maybe 4 hours and finally came into the house, I had reluctantly told my wife what was going on and she was just sitting inside not even crying just blank eyed and I walked inside and I said you need to come out with me, you need to just come outside. And we walked outside I brought her out into the garden with me and there’s birds and there’s butterflies and there’s no sign of this impossible tragedy just 80 miles east of us and I looked at her and said I can’t imagine how people without a garden are going to get through this. I just felt like I couldn’t have survived if I had not had that to walk through, it was not an antidote but it prevented my tower from collapsing, it kept me going.
I had decided out first national show just to further confuse people who hadn’t heard me for a month and the show had been announced as coming onto these stations and of course nothing happened the way it normally it did, I decided that for the first show I gathered together I think it was 3 or 4 horticultural therapists to talk about how people could use their plants to ease these horrible feelings that they were going through and the whole way that plants bring people’s blood pressure down, reduce their depression, and that’s all we did for that first show the first hour was just horticultural therapists just trying to make people feel better.
Music as the messenger:
I don’t think there’s any sense to be made from something like that. Sometimes there is just the existence of pure, unadulterated evil in the world and it just strikes and I don’t think anybody can ever make any sense of it. The one thing that happened afterwards and it was within a few weeks and was there were a lot of musical tributes to the firefighters and the police officers and the rescue personnel who raced into the towers and you know that the firefighters knew what was going to happen. And the chorus I wish we had a copy of this song so we could get it right but the chorus of this folk song was something like “and their boots were running up the stairs as ours were running down.’ And that’s all we have , the acts of heroics that occurred on that day.
Produced and edited by Elisabeth Perez Luna